When you encourage someone, you give him or her the courage or confidence to do something, like when you encourage your little brother to play harder by yelling his name from the sidelines of the soccer field.

The word encourage comes from the Old French word encoragier, meaning "make strong, hearten." When you encourage the tomato plants in your garden, you water them to promote their growth and health. Encourage can also mean to inspire with hope, like when you encourage your friends to try out for the school play by complimenting their singing and acting talents.

Definitions of encourage

v inspire with confidence; give hope or courage to

deprive of courage or hope; take away hope from; cause to feel discouraged
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barrack, cheer, exhort, inspire, pep up, root on, urge, urge on
spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts
foster, nurture
help develop, help grow
encourage somebody by crying hollo
cheer, embolden, hearten, recreate
give encouragement to
draw out
make more sociable
bring out
encourage to be less reserved
goad, spur
give heart or courage to
act as a cheerleader in a sports event
keep going, patronage, patronise, patronize, support
be a regular customer or client of
buck up, take heart
gain courage
serve, serve well
promote, benefit, or be useful or beneficial to
Type of:
animate, enliven, exalt, inspire, invigorate
heighten or intensify

v spur on

“His financial success encouraged him to look for a wife”
Type of:
cause, get, have, induce, make, stimulate
cause to do; cause to act in a specified manner

v contribute to the progress or growth of

advance, boost, further, promote
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connive at, wink at
give one's silent approval to
foster, further
promote the growth of
incite or stimulate
contribute to the furtherance of
take further or advance
support or promote
conduce, contribute, lead
be conducive to
Type of:
back up, support
give moral or psychological support, aid, or courage to